Beware the short shelf life of trending terminology

Guest blog by Kelley Korbin

“We are going to have to take a deep dive to determine whether that particular core competency is within our wheelhouse.”


I kid you not, that is a verbatim quote from an actual meeting I attended in the past month.

I see it as a reminder to check my jargon at boardroom door, or at least tone it down a notch. Long rebuked by plain language enthusiasts, business jargon has now become a full-fledged epidemic in meeting rooms across North America.

None of us are immune to its allure. Who among us hasn’t urged someone to break down silos, pick the low-hanging fruit or drink the Kool-Aid?

It’s easy to see why.

Colourful phrases easily conjure a persuasive and effective image that encapsulates your point. Using these terms can also make us feel like we’re one of the cool kids on the business block. But beware. Like being prom queen or captain of the football team, business jargon can have a short shelf life. Case in point: I once had a boss who liked to profess, “We really screwed the pooch on that one,” when something went sideways. I’m guessing that expression emerged between “groovy” (the 60s) and “choice” (the 80s); apparently he never got the memo.

While I won’t be opening my kimono (seriously?) anytime soon, I also know that at the end of the day, I can’t get on board with a plan to completely eradicate business jargon from my lexicon, nor will I counsel you to do the same.

However, I respectfully request that you attempt to limit yourself to one current business jargon phrase per sentence. Otherwise, going forward you risk losing your status as a thought leader of epic proportions.

Now, where’s the synergy in that? 

Kelley Korbin is a public relations, sponsorship and advertising strategist who works on strategy, writing and design for Combo Creative, a creative services collective headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.